The largest haul of cannabis ever seized by Spanish police was discovered in a series of raids across the country, officers said.
Around 32 tonnes of the crop were found, adding up to a street value of $60m, a spokesperson for Guardia Civil, Spain’s national police force, said.
Police said they arrested nine men and 11 women, aged between 20 and 59, in busts on a network of offices in Toledo, Ciudad Real, Valencia and Asturias, which span the country from north to south.
The Guardia Civil said the “complex business network” was supplying the domestic drug market and sending shipments to Switzerland, Holland, Germany and Belgium and elsewhere in Europe.
The seized plants weigh roughly the same amount as five adult African elephants.
“The Guardia Civil has seized the largest cache of packaged marijuana found so far,” a police statement said.
“It was equivalent to approximately 1.1 million plants.”
The investigation, given the name Operation Gardens by police, began with an inspection by the Civil Guard of several industrial hemp plantations in Villacanas, Toledo.
The main site owned a company in Valencia which took care of sourcing the cannabis seeds. A second company transported and planted them while a third was in charge of maintaining, harvesting and drying the crops.
The cannabis was then sent back to the first company in Valencia where it was divided and vacuum sealed in different sized packs for sale.
A second inspection in the town of Almagro, Ciudad Real last month found some 37,000 plants distributed in four greenhouses and in the process of drying ahead of being sent to the Valencia company.
A further 30 tonnes were later found which includes 21,600 drying plants and 231,200 packs of buds. A third inspection in Asturias found 4,000 plants.
In June, the Spanish Tax Agency said that cannabis was worth “between €2,300 and €2,500 per kilogramme”.